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I spent it all on clothes by the looks of things...

Spree v Steal: Handbags

Do you remember when, I think it was Elle magazine, did those articles showing you how to ‘get the look for less’? I’m pretty sure it was called ‘spree v steal’, so I’ve blatantly copied that title for this post. I was going to do a general round-up of my favourite designer bags, but as I was researching which ones I wanted to showcase, I saw a fair few high street versions that looked almost as good as the expensive ones so I thought I’d throw in some more purse-friendly alternatives.

A designer handbag is a big purchase, one not to be taken lightly. But I will say, choose wisely, and you will have it forever. Even if you get tired of her, you can resell for usually not a great deal less than you originally paid. But if it’s just the style and look you’re after rather than the quality and longevity, then the more ‘budget’ bags will be the ones for you. Personally, as with all my shopping habits, I like a mixture of high and low, and some of my most-used bags are not necessarily the most expensive ones but, saying that, we are starting with Chanel…


I have the Chanel ‘wallet on a chain’ bag. I bought it in Selfridges after a VERY boozy Christmas lunch, with the bonus I got from work. Unlike many other things I have done whilst drunk, I have no regrets. She’s only small but she’s perfectly formed. Just big enough for keys, cards, lipstick, phone and anti-shine face powder – the five things I always carry with me. She has come with me on every night out I’ve had since I bought her, and during lockdown she came with me on many a daily walk, just to get a bit of an outing. I’ve just noticed that in 4 years the price of it new has gone up by almost £800! that’s madness.

One day I would like to buy her big sister and, if that day ever comes, I will be going down the pre-loved route. mainly because I couldn’t pay the current brand new Chanel prices, but I also like the idea of owning something that has already had a bit of life. Good places to look for buying and selling genuine pre-owned and vintage designer bags are Vestiaire, The Handbag Clinic, Designer Exchange and The Hosta.

spree vs steal: designer bags & budget alternatives

1. Phase Eight Tuxedo blazer 

2. Gucci bee pearl drop earrings

3. Hush lace and satin camisole 

4. Sandro satin trim stretch woven trousers 

5. Chanel Classic quilted chain strap handbag 

6. Travista faux leather chain strap bag 

7. Miss KG Corinthia scalloped court shoes 


This is what I consider to be the most chic and understated designer bag of them all, the Celine box bag. It’s the epitome of a simple luxe look but, I have to say, there are some REALLY good ‘homages’ at various prices to consider if you like the look of it. APC do the ‘Grace’ bag which is very similar – still expensive, but less than a third of the Celine. On the high street, Mango have a great style in black or brown for £45.99 that looks way more expensive, and M&S did an even cheaper version for around £30, but it proved very popular and is now only available (at the time of writing) in cream, although they do have a black and sparkle one that could be a winner for nights out.

1. By Iris Merlot puff sleeve jumper 

2. Celine burgundy leather box bag 

3. Weekday Luciana wool blazer 

4. Hush Agnes washed black jeans 

5. Ba&sh Caitlin heeled ankle boots 

6. Mango faux leather crossbody bag 


Probably the most ‘affordable’ bag in the designer area. I use the word ‘affordable’ in quotes as I’m fully aware that the price will still be prohibitively expensive for many, but if you are in the market for a timeless bag, the APC Demi Lune is a good choice. Some may disagree, as the zip placement means it’s not mega-easy to access and the leather can get scratched, but, for me, I still really rate it. I don’t mind when bags get a bit lived-in and I use my Demi Lune a LOT. I’ve had it for five years and it’s on constant rotation. For a small-brand alternative, check out the excellent Honey & Toast half-moon bag, and on the high street M&S do a faux-leather croc version too.

spree vs steal: designer bags & budget alternatives

1. Ba&sh 3/4 length checked Gus coat 

2. A.P.C hazelnut leather Demi Lune bag (use code KATE15 for 15% off and free delivery) 

3. Honey & Toast Half Moon leather bag 

4. M&S luxury high waisted wide leg jeans 

5. Jigsaw navy corduroy blouse

6. Alpe heeled tan leather Chelsea Boots 


Any fans of Sex and the City will have a fondness for the Fendi Baguette. I can’t point you in the direction of dodgy dealers selling copies from the boot of a car in the Bronx, but I can show you a few clever styles that take their inspiration from this one. The H&M sequin silver and snakeskin versions are great alternatives. The baguette-style bag had a few years in fashion wilderness but it’s definitely having a moment again now.

spree vs steal: designer bags & budget alternatives

1. Missoma moonlight pearl hoop earrings 

2. Fendi pre-owned Mamma baguette bag 

3. H&M sequin shoulder bag 

4. H&M Balloon sleeve jacquard weave midi dress 

5. All Saints Orlana shimmer leather boots 


Ok, so there isn’t really anything ‘that’ similar to this one on the high street, but there are a few that have the same boxy shape. I think the Loewe Puzzle bag is my favourite everyday designer bag. I came to mine via a friend, as the price of a new one is a bit beyond my grasp. But I love the style of it, it’s big enough for all the essentials and you can carry it by the top handle or sling it across your body with the longer strap. For a comparable carrying style, check out this one from Arket and this one from & Other Stories. 

spree vs steal: designer bags & budget alternatives

1. COS oversize mock neck t shirt 

2. Stradivarius oversized Paris sweatshirt 

3. NRBY silk blend velvet cargo trousers 

4. pre-owned Loewe leather puzzle bag

5. Arket leather detailed cross body bag 

6. Autry Medalist mid high top trainers 


Finally, let’s have a look at some tote bags. The Givenchy Antigona is probably the ultimate in smart work bags, unless you count the Hermes Birkin, but you would quite literally need a second mortgage for one of those. I think the best high street alternative is this pebble leather tote from Jigsaw, but I also like this compartment tote by Kin at John Lewis. 

spree vs steal: designer bags & budget alternatives

1. Arket cotton and wool blend jumper 

2. Givenchy Antigona medium leather tote bag 

3. Jigsaw double face green wool coat 

4. Levi’s wedgie straight leg jeans 

5. Jigsaw Adela pebble leather tote bag 

6. Shoe the Bear Thyra black leather Chelsea Boots 

I hope you enjoyed this post, let me know, I might do more along the same lines in the future, but as the weather has definitely turned this week, I think next time we might have a better look at some puffer jackets and warm winter coats. 

K x

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Puffers, Parkas and Toasty Coats

December 10th, 2022

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November 29th, 2022

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